6 tricks to fix tire punctures

Avoid walking home with these quick tire repair fixes

How To Tires
MTB Food Wrapper Boot Sidewall Tire Failure

Having your tire fail catastrophically doesn’t mean you have to walk home.

Last week, I was riding along when a gunshot went off. Well, it wasn’t a gunshot, it was my rear tire. The casing had violently blown out. With the nearest road 10 miles away, walking wasn’t an option.

After unleashing a torrent of obscenities, cursing everyone but myself, it was time to MacGyver my way out of this mess. If you’re ever in a similar situation, here are six tips that have helped me limp home.

Adding More Stan's Sealant to Tire

Make sure to regularly check your sealant levels if you want it to work. Old dry sealant doesn’t seal very well.

1. Help work the sealant into place

Normally, punctures are pretty small. If you’re lucky, you can spin or shake your tire to help the sealant work faster. You can also try holding your wheel so the sealant pools near the puncture. Spending a few extra seconds trying to get your sealant working is way easier than dealing with a tube. Also note that tire sealant eventually dries out. So as part of your regular maintenance routine, check your sealant and top off as needed.


Everyone should carry super glue and duct tape.

2. Super Glue

Another option for small punctures or tears is super glue. The key is prepping the surface area. The exterior of the tire should be as clean and dry as possible before applying the glue.

Dynaplug MTB Tubeless Tire Repair Kit Gash Puncture

Dynaplug kits aren’t cheap, but they’re the best way to fix a puncture quickly with minimal effort. Read the Mtbr review of the Dynaplug system.

3. Tubeless tire repair kit

If the puncture won’t seal, a tubeless repair kit is the fastest and easiest option. This tool allows you to manually insert a plug into the puncture. The best part is you don’t have to remove the wheel or tire to insert a plug. Once in, they last forever. The kits can be a little pricey, but they’re absolutely worth the cost of entry, especially if you’re racing.

Don’t want to drop coin on the real thing? You can make your own tubeless tire repair kit out of a poker (a spoke works perfectly) and a strip of rag. It’s not quite as easy to use, but it works.

Formula QR Skewer Thru Axle

It’s my firm belief that everyone should keep an emergency kit with duct tape and super glue handy at all times.

4. QR skewer as a tire lever

I can normally remove and install a fresh tire with my hands. It’s a point of pride. But there are some rim/tire combos that are just evil. If you’re in a similar situation and don’t have a tire lever handy, you can use the edge of a quick release skewer. Just be careful, as you could scratch up your rim.

Food Wrapper MTB Tire Boot

Stuffing a food wrapper, dollar, or whatever else you have handy to patch a gash can help get you home.

5. Energy gel wrapper tire boot

In my case, the hole in my casing was too large for conventional repairs. To save me a long walk home, I stuffed a food wrapper in my tire. You could use whatever you have handy, like a dollar bill or even duct tape. If you’re a former Boy Scout, you could even carry a small section of an old tire for this purpose. Just make sure whatever you use, it’s not too thick.

Once the boot is in place, reseat the tire around the rim, then continue to work your way around. You need to make sure the patch stays firmly in place. As you inflate your tire, keep a close eye on the boot. You want to run only enough pressure to roll home, otherwise it may bulge out.

Drifty Leaves

Leaves aren’t just for drifting. In an emergency, they can help you get home.

6. Fill your tire with leaves

And if all else fails, try filling your tires with leaves. I’ve never actually resorted to this trick. I’d rather just ride out the flat tire and walk when needed, but I have seen it done. It’s not fun, but it will help protect your rim.

What are you tricks and tips for dealing with a slashed tire? Let us know in the comments section below.

Check out all of the How To content on Mtbr.

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  • zoso says:

    Fill your tires with leaves?! You’re really gonna recommend this? It’s a myth, plain and simple; doesn’t work at all. But thanks for perpetuating it for the sake of tradition.

    I’d add: carry beefy zip ties and athletic tape. You can add both around the entire rim/tire for serious blow outs. Sure they’ll wear, but it’ll do ya.

  • zooey says:

    I tried a road tire with leaves I found at the base of some shrubs and trees. It doesn’t work. At least the specific leaves I found near a college. They literally were ground into fine mulch and leaked out. Usually don’t have the luxury of being picky, but I’d choose ones that weren’t so dry if I had a choice, thick green waxy ones preferably.

    I was about 15 miles from home. It took 3 hours to jog/walk back. Told the story to my LBS and they were like, “you should’ve called, and we would’ve picked you up!”

  • Mick Warner says:

    I carry a piece of plastic cut out of a 2ltr milk bottle wraps round inside of tyre protecting inner tube from popping out.. Also carry duct tape wrapped round pump can be used in many situations tyre repairs’ clothing and will also cover any wounds temporary..:-)

  • tb says:

    I’ve heard of using tall grass, but I think that it is a myth too.

    I wonder how rubber splicing tape would work. A little stretchier than Gorilla tape.

  • MBR says:

    And make #6 green leaves. Dried leaves just turn to flour…

  • Tor-y-Foel says:

    An old toothpaste tube cut to shape makes a great liner. If it a big cut that is bulging when pressured up a zip tie or two, or some sort of sticky tape, wrapped around the tyre will hold it in shape and allow enough pressure to ride

  • A. Rider says:

    Oh jeez, just carry a tube.

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